Lord Rama speaking to Shabari
Answered the Lord of Raghus: Listen, O good lady, to My words I recognize no other kinship except that of Devotion. Despite caste, kinship, lineage, piety, reputation, wealth, physical strength, numerical strength of his family, accomplishments and ability, a man lacking in Devotion is of no more worth than a cloud without water. Now I tell you the nine forms of Devotion; please listen attentively and cherish them in your mind.
The first in order is fellowship with the saints
and the second is marked by a fondness for My stories.
Humble service of the lotus feet of one’s preceptor is the third form of Devotion,
while the fourth type of Devotion consists in singing My praises with a guileless purpose.
Muttering My Name with unwavering faith constitutes the fifth form of adoration revealed in the Vedas.
The sixth variety consists in the practice of self-control and virtue, desisting from manifold activities and ever pursuing the course of conduct prescribed for saints.
He who practises the seventh type sees the world full of Me without distinction and reckons the saints as even greater than Myself.
He who cultivates the eighth type of Devotion remains contented with whatever he gets and never thinks of detecting others’ faults.
The ninth form of Devotion demands that one should be guileless and straight in one’s dealings with everybody, and should in his heart cherish implicit faith in Me without either exultation or depression.
Whoever possesses any one of these nine forms of Devotion, be he man or woman or any other creature— sentient or insentient— is most dear to Me, O good lady.
Look here, Lakshamana the peacocks dance at the sight of the clouds, even as a householder having a leaning towards dispassion would rejoice to see a devotee of Bhagavan Vishnu.
The clouds are fast gathering in the sky and making a terrible noise. Bereft as I am of my darling (SITA), my heart trembles to see all this. The lightning flashes fitfully amid the clouds, like the friendship of the wicked, which never endures.The pouring clouds cleave close to the ground even as the learned stoop beneath accumulated lore. The mountains endure the buffeting of showers even as a saint would put up with the taunts of the wicked. The swelling streamlets rush with great speed just as the wicked would feel elated even with a small fortune. The water becomes turbid the moment it descends on earth, even as the Jiva (an embodied soul) is enveloped in Maya as soon as born. The water coming from various directions gathers into a pool even as commendable virtues find their way into the heart of a noble soul. The water of the stream, becomes still once it pours into the ocean, just as the ego finds eternal rest on attaining union with Shri Hari.
On all sides one hears the delightful croaking of frogs, which reminds one of a batch of religious students chanting the Vedas. Clothed with new leaves the trees of different species look as green and cheerful as the mind of a striving soul who has attained spiritual wisdom. The leaves of the Aka and Javasa plants have fallen off even as under a good government the plans of the wicked come to naught. Dust cannot be found even if one searches for it, just as piety is scared away by anger. The earth rich with crops appears as delightful as the wealth of a generous man. In the thick darkness of the night fireflies gleam like a mustered band of hypocrites. The embankments of the fields have been breached by torrential rains just as women get spoiled by freedom. Clever husbandmen protect their crop by uprooting the weeds, just as the wise discard infatuation, vanity and pride. The Cakravaka birds are no more to be seen, just as virtues disappear with the Kali age. Even though it rains on the barren lands as well, not a blade of grass sprouts on it, just as concupiscence takes no root in the heart of a servant of Shri Hari. The earth looks charming with the swarms of various living creatures even as the population grows under a good government. Many a weary traveller has stopped here and there just as with the dawning of wisdom the senses become still.
Sometimes a strong wind would blow and disperse the clouds in various directions, just as with the birth of an unworthy son the noble traditions of a family get extinct. Now it becomes pitch dark even during the day, while at other times the sun would shine brightly, just as the light of wisdom is obscured in the company of the vile and manifests itself in the company of the good.
Look here, Lakshamana the rains are over now and the most charming autumn has arrived. The whole earth is covered by the Kasa grass with its white flowers as if the rainy season has exposed its old age. The constellation known by the name of Agastya (Canopus) has appeared and dried up the water on the roads even as contentment swallows greed. The limpid water of the rivers and lakes looks charming as a saint’s heart devoid of pride and infatuation. Drop by drop the water of the streams and lakes is drying up even as the wise shake off the possessive instinct. Knowing that the autumn had set in the Khanjana bird has made its appearance, just as the welcome fruit of one’s meritorious deeds appears at the appointed time (neither sooner nor later). Devoid of mud and dust the earth has assumed a lovely aspect just like the administration of a monarch well-versed in politics. The fish are distressed on account of the diminishing waters even as an improvident householder suffering from want of money. The cloudless sky is shining as bright as a devotee of Shri Hari, who has abandoned all desires. Here and there we have light autumnal showers, just as a rare soul comes to develop devotion to Me.
Kings and ascetics, merchants and mendicants are gladly leaving the city (kings for extending their dominions, ascetics in search of a suitable place for practising penance, merchants for carrying on their trade and mendicants for begging alms), just as men in any of the four stages of life cease to toil (for perfection) once they have acquired devotion to Shri Hari.
In deep waters the fish are as happy as ever, just as those who have taken refuge in Shri Hari (i.e., Myself) never fall into trouble of any kind. With full-blown lotuses the lake appears as charming as when the absolute Brahma appears with form. The bees are making a humming sound which possesses a unique melody of its own, and the birds a charming concert of diverse sounds. The Cakravaka bird is sad at heart to see the night, just as a villain is grieved at the sight of another’s fortune. The Chataka cries out in its agony of excessive thirst just as an enemy of Shankara knows no rest. The moon by night relieves the heat of the autumnal sun, just as the sight of a holy man drives away sin. Flocks of Chakora birds fix their gaze on the moon as soon as she comes to their view, even as the votaries of Shri Hari on meeting Him. Mosquitoes and gadflies have perished due to fear of cold, just as hostility to the Brahamanas brings, ruin to the entire family.
The insects that teemed on the earth have perished with the advent of the autumn, just as a man who has found a teacher in the real sense of the term is rid of all doubt and error.